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Xtraordinary Man of the Month - Ronald Bownes

Ronald Bownes - Founder of DreamWorker

Ronald in officeIn June we celebrate Father’s Day and Youth Day. Xtraordinary Women have dedicated June to celebrating men making a difference in our community. We, therefore, have an Xtraordinary Man of the month for June. We honour a very special man making a difference in our country.

Born and educated in Plumstead, Cape Town. I played many sports and was active in numerous extra curricula activities, one of which was the Interact club. This is where my desire to make a difference in community and society was born. Tried to chase the girls but after zero success settled for the soccer, cricket and badminton teams. After my compulsory 2-year sabbatical with the Defence Force, I completed the CIS business qualification which launched me into the corporate world. I gained varied and valuable experience across many management disciplines namely, finance, human resources, training and marketing. One of my highlights was to design, implement and project manage the first customer care programme for 8000 employees for one of the largest financial organisations in SA. After a brief spell in management consulting, I teamed up with my wife, Tania and founded Inspiration Sandwich, a design and advertising agency. After 7 years of growth and success we sold it to explore other entrepreneurial endeavours. I then developed and implemented internal brand building programmes and worked with medium and large companies in the insurance, retail and medical services fields.

Please tell us a little more about The DreamWorker Group and how it came about. 

Tania and I were given the opportunity to rebuild an NGO based in Hout Bay that was placed to help the unemployed find work. After successfully rebranding and rebuilding the business model over 2 years, provincial government asked us to create similar services in the greater Peninsula. Thus DreamWorker was born and became the wonderful vehicle through which we could pursue our lifelong dream of helping communities empower themselves. My desire has been to grow the DreamWorker brand across South Africa and build a prosperity consciousness across the nation. To-date DreamWorker has helped over 21 000 unemployed people, facilitated over 3,1 million days of work which has put over R394 million worth of wages back into the hands of the previously unemployed. Nine years later we believe we have only just begun.

You are busy with some very interesting initiatives. Please tell us a little more about that. 

DreamWorker is a 24/7 business but we are creating some new and exciting initiatives. One project is the development of our database systems to help TVET colleges around South Africa. Once through the pilot programme it has the potential to help economically empower tens of thousands of students annually. The other project is my new baby which is to use all current technology and create an empowering eco-system to help unemployed people help each other through self-employment. We envisage millions to use this site in the next few years. Other than that, I take long naps and do standup paddling in my spare time.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Vanessa Lynch

Vanessa Lynch - Executive Director of The DNA Project & Deputy Chair of National Forensic DNA Oversight & Ethics Board

Vanessa LynchHaving graduated from Law School at UCT in 1993 I pursued a legal career for the following ten years. In 2004, after the brutal murder of my father, I founded the NGO “The DNA Project” in an effort to alleviate crime in South Africa through the use of a National Forensic DNA Database. It thus became my mission to help establish infrastructures and laws in South Africa which would ensure that forensic DNA technology was used to its best advantage. To that end I have assisted with the drafting of the new DNA Act and have been commended for the contribution I have made to law reform in this regard.

I have driven the development of a specific career path in Forensic DNA both in science and law and was appointed by the Minister of Police as the Deputy Chair of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board in January 2015, a position which I currently still hold.

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.

As Deputy Chair of the National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board, I am currently overseeing the implementation of the DNA Act in SA and the growth of the National DNA Database - when I read about cases such as this one published just today, I am filled with hope that we have done a good thing! I am also involved with various University Master’s programs on Forensic DNA and the Law, as well as for Officers of the Court. I am about to start studying again too, which I hope will culminate in a PhD in Forensic Law and then - well, the sky’s the limit and I will probably have a complete career change!

What are you passionate about?

My health! Without our health we have nothing - look after yourself first and you can change the world thereafter! Neglect your health and that becomes a lot more difficult to achieve… the greatest wealth is actually your health!


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Simoné Botha Welgemoed

Simoné Botha Welgemoed - Professional Freelance Ballet Dancer, Motivational Speaker & Miss Deaf SA 2012/2013

Photo Credit Emil H BoschSimoné Botha Welgemoed, former Miss Deaf SA 2012, was born profoundly deaf and received her cochlear implant at age 22 months. She lives her dream today as the world’s first profoundly deaf professional ballet dancer with a cochlear implant. Aside from her dancing career as a principal dancer that performs leading roles with various companies, Simoné aspires to motivate and inspire young hearing impaired children to chase their dreams.

People never thought that Simoné would make a successful career in professional dance, because she cannot hear the music. She has had many obstacles and naysayers to face. Simoné did not want to be pitied- as a result it was never mentioned at auditions, eisteddfods and competitions. She rather tried to blend in, in order to prove that being hearing impaired doesn’t make you less of a dancer.

During her reign as Miss Deaf SA 2012 she realised that she could help other hearing impaired individuals to realize their own dreams by sharing her successes as a professional hearing impaired dancer. A solo choreography by Adele Blank at the ‘Celebrating Sound’ fundraiser, was the first performance she gave with the idea of encouraging others like herself. During her representation at Miss Deaf World, in Prague, she performed ‘This is Africa’ in honor of Nelson Mandela. Simoné’s life as dancer takes her from dancing principal roles such as ‘Phrygia’ in SANDTS “Spartacus of Africa” as well as lead dancer in Bovim Ballet’s various productions to performing alongside famous South African and world acclaimed singers such as Johny Clegg, Kurt Darren and Aviva Pelham to dancing in the Donroy Entertainment’s international dance movie, “Iris Warriors”, due to be released later in 2017. It is because of her successes that she strives to create awareness of hearing disability in the public eye through many outreach activities.

She also recently became a Forever Living Business owner and loves every moment of it! This career in health and wellness has proved to sing in perfect tune with her career as professional dancer. 

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

I am an adventure and thrill seeking lover that has been fortunate to jet set all over the world as part of my dancing career to countries such as Germany, France, Czech Republic, Mozambique, Seychelles and India. I am also a proud furkid mommy of my staffie, Judo, and dachund, Toffie, who just like their mom has grown to love the life on the road. They constantly look at me with hopeful eyes as to where we might go out to next. Besides travelling and walking my dogs, I do enjoy the luxury of a good read.

When it is time for a much needed break, I disconnect with the buzz of society and disappear to where no technology can find me. Out in the countryside I tackle my sporty side and enjoy waterskiing and kneeboarding activities. When one gets back from such a getaway it is so extremely refreshing. Thereafter I am always ready to take the world by storm!


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Lois Strachan

Lois Strachan - Author, Inspirational Speaker & Workshop Facilitator

Lois Strachan Xtraordinary Woman of the MonthDo you ever feel overwhelmed at the challenges that life throws in your way?

Lois Strachan is an author, disability advocate, workshop facilitator and inspirational speaker who uses her personal story to help people see their lives and their challenges in a different way to encourage them to succeed. Lois is passionate about de-mystifying blindness to facilitate the inclusion of blind and visually impaired people into the workplace and communities in a meaningful way.

Since losing her sight at the age of 21 years Lois has achieved a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English Literature and Classical Civilisations and an Honours degree in Classical Civilisations from the University of KwaZulu Natal, a diploma in practitioner Coaching Skills, a Certificate in Human Resource Management from UNISA, and is a Distinguished Toastmaster.

In 2014 she published a series of illustrated children’s books, “The Adventures of Missy Mouse” that enable sighted children to understand that a blind or low vision person is simply a “normal” person who does things in a different way. That same year she was awarded a Tributes Excellence Award for women with disabilities who excel in their fields, in the category of literature and education. In 2015 she was also appointed as a Casual Day Goodwill Ambassador, advancing the aims of South Africa’s foremost fundraising event for people living with a disability.

In December 2016 she published “A Different Way of Seeing: A Blind Woman’s Journey of Living an ‘Ordinary’ Life in an Extraordinary Way” which de-mystifies how she lives a normal life and accomplishes simple, everyday tasks without sight.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

When I first became blind I realized I had a choice –to go home and give up and be angry, bitter, dependent and depressed for the rest of my life; or I could take back control of my life and actively choose to move forward as a blind person in a sighted world.

It’s not always been easy but I believe my journey has been facilitated by my positive attitude, the incredibly strong support group I have around me, and my ability to see the funny side when things go wrong. Every one of these attributes has enabled me to keep moving forward with my life and achieving the goals that I’ve set for myself.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Catherine Lückhoff

Catherine Lückhoff - CEO & Founder of NicheStreem

Catherine Luckhoff Xtraordinary Woman of the MonthCatherine Lückhoff is passionate about music, mobile, big data, start-ups and innovation in Africa, and has worked extensively with operators, OEMs, corporates and brands throughout the continent.

An entrepreneur at heart, NicheStreem is her third company. Founded in 2015, the company builds music streams for niche markets. Its first stream, Liedjie, is dedicated to Afrikaans music.

In her career Catherine has been named one of the Mail & Guardian’s “200 Young South Africans”; was recognised in the Topco Top Women in Business and Government; included in the first Old Mutual Do Great Things start-up guide and most recently featured in the Sunday Times Women in ICT report.

She has spoken on a variety of topics ranging from how content drives the uptake of technology to African music streaming services, to innovation in Africa at conferences across the globe including SXSW, Midem, Tech4Africa, Social Media Week Lagos, GSMA Connected Women, #FastForward, NetProphet and MLOVE. She is passionate about mentoring and does so for programmes such as TechStars, Sw7, Launch Weekend, Innotech and Spark-Up.

Catherine is a nominated member of the African Leadership Network and a judge for the GSMA Glomo Awards. Follow her musings on @Cluckhoff.

Please tell us a little more about NicheStreem and how it came about.

The inspiration for NicheStreem was sparked by a number of things however the biggest driver is the underlying belief that there must be a way to make music streaming profitable. Looking at my own listening behaviour I realised that we all tend to listen to the music we love repeatedly. The idea of 40 million tracks doesn’t excite me. What does make me happy is the idea of having unfettered access to all the music I already love and discovering music I didn’t yet know I would enjoy. Something akin to picking and paying only for the TV channels that excite you. So I decided to build my own music-streaming platform – one that will offer fans a home for the music they love, at a fraction of the cost while still earning enough revenue to pay artists and make a profit.

The result is NicheStreem, a full stack tech platform that focuses on building targeted, profitable music streams. NicheStreem is purpose built to support multiple streams: each branded, curated and promoted to a specific audience. The focus is on emerging markets where there is a need for affordable, curated music solutions, and where music and cultures are intrinsically linked.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Mishka Patel

Mishka Patel - TV Presenter,  Motivational Speaker & Co-Owner of GeTuned Media Productions

Mishka Patel Xtraordinary Woman of the MonthSmall Town girl turned TV Presenter. Motivational Speaker. Emcee. Health and Fitness Enthusiast. Entrepreneur, business Owner and Ambassador. I have quite a few titles ranging from being a Miss South Africa 2014 Top 12 Finalist, Miss Veet 2014 runner-up, Miss Earth South Africa 2014 Top 10 Finalist and a Top 10 Finalist on Presenter Search on 3, which landed me a presenting Job on SABC3 and my current TV Presenter Title as a Pasella TV Presenter on SABC 2. My journey took me to discover my love for the Youth, Business, Education and Television. It led me to start my own Success classes at underprivileged schools in Stellenbosch, doing various amounts of charity work, Co-owning a Production Company, doing Motivational and Public Speaking, Emceeing and Being a Television Presenter.  

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about them.

Well, I see myself as a jack of all trades to be honest. My first love however, is my Mishka Patel Success Classes at St Idas Primary, Rietenbosch Primary and JJ Rhode. What I speak about and teach young girls:
- Goal orientation
- Take them on a journey – I tell them a story about a Small town girl from Idasvalley, managed to dream big and then follow through on those goals and dreams
- Visions
- Obstacles
- Planning & preparation
- Teamwork.

I am a spokesperson for three organisations close to my heart:
- Toys for Africa,
- JAG Foundation JAGBullyproof and,
- The Child Welfare Organisation in Stellenbosch.

I am also doing TV Presenting for Pasella, an Afrikaans TV Show on SABC2 and I co-own a production company, www.getunedmedia.com and we are currently airing a reality Show called SellHard Western Cape Season 2! It airs every Saturday at 7pm, on channel 365 on StarSat SA and on channel 152 on OpenView HD, but we also have a youtube account with all the links to all the episodes, which we share all over social media.

Recently I have been working on my writing skills as a blogger as well. On the side, I do keynote and motivational speaking, modelling and I emcee at events.

What are you passionate about?

Honestly, I am passionate about the youth, especially the young girls I work with, creating change and using my platforms to connect people and being a positive influence.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Keri Stroebel

Keri Stroebel - Mrs Africa Finalist 2016 & Motivational Speaker

Xtraordinary Woman of the Month Keri StroebelMrs Africa Continental Finalist 2016
Mrs South Africa Semi Finalist 2016
Motivational Speaker & MC
Pageant Judge
Ambassador for The SA Depression and Anxiety Association

Originally from Pretoria, I am one of 3 siblings. There is depression scattered throughout my family which filtered down to me as well. An often tumultuous childhood resulted in my own issues, and when I had my son, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. It was only after I started speaking to a psychiatrist that I realised I had actually been dealing with depression for most of my adult life. I am now based in beautiful Cape Town, I am a 32 year old wife and mom, balancing my time between my work in Digital Marketing, doing talks at schools, raising awareness for depression and anxiety, and raising funds for Dignity Dreams and the Nzuri Project, among various other charities. I have also been invited to judge various pageants and I am working on a mentoring program for young girls. It’s very important for me to raise awareness about the signs of depression so that it’s not left untreated.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

As previously mentioned, the real transformation of my journey began when my husband and I chose to move to Cape Town. This was a way to escape from a lot of the troubles I had been dealing with at home. However, it was no quick fix and I quickly discovered, alone in a new city’ that I had a lot of old baggage that needed to be dealt with. About 18 months after moving to Cape Town, I gave birth to my beautiful son and quickly realized that something wasn’t right. I was placed on light antidepressants for postpartum depression and tried to manage as best I could. I was too scared to get real help for a number of reasons, I was embarrassed and I was nervous about taking any other medication while breastfeeding. After some time however, my husband convinced me to go and speak to someone and I was diagnosed with full blown depression, placed on better antidepressants and I started being more open about what I was dealing with in the hopes of letting people understand why I was acting the way I was.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Jana Grobbelaar

Jana Grobbelaar - Founder of Moomie

Jana Grobbelaar Xtraordinary Woman of the monthJana is the founding owner of moomie.co.za – the biggest online parenting forum in South Africa. She is also a mother, writer, editor and runner. Creating new things excites her and she hardly ever runs out of ideas for her business. 

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

I am a mom to three littlies, Nienke (7), Sion (4) and Neva (2). They keep me busy and on my toes! I run and manage Moomie, and am also a magazine editor. My life is full and busy but I love it. New challenges keep me alive and excited. I get bored very easily – much like a toddler – so am constantly looking for new challenges. My journey started as a newspaper journalist but it has evolved so much. Even though I am passionate about content creation, I have ventured into other parts of online marketing – especially videos – and find it very interesting. Connecting with your end-user is very important to me.

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about them.

Moomie has just launched an app on both Apple and Play store. It’s very exciting, because it’s like you have little groups (just like on Whatsapp) at your fingertips. You don’t have to “join” it or be “accepted”, you can just join in and start chatting. You can even share pics and videos. It’s really exciting.

We are doing a major cool campaign with the Fisher Price brand. I am so excited about that because I grew up with Fisher Price and still have this old Fisher Price toy I am keeping for my grandkids. My mom keeps it at her house. I love running campaigns like this and thinking of new ways to connect to the consumer. I like thinking about out of the box ideas to keep advertising and marketing fun and exciting.

Moomie’s Story Chest also launched about a year ago and we are ready to take it to the next level. The stories are amazing. It’s available in Afrikaans and English, you can sign up for a free two-month trial. You will receive a story each week via email that you can either read or listen to. Very cool! There’s two series to choose from, Snuki and Fester’s Adventures or Sabik and Navi’s Wonderworld.


Xtraordinary Woman of the Month - Nora Dawud

Nora Dawud - CEO of Black Pen Immigration & Recruitment

Nora Dawud Xtraordinary Woman of the MonthAfter completing my Law studies in Tübingen and Bonn (Germany), I gained experience as a German attorney and worked for the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht). In addition to this experience, I furthered my studies and obtained my Master of Laws Degree (LL.M.) at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. I am now actively involved in South African Immigration.

Following my publication in CISG and al Shari’a: "Problems with the Enforceability of Article 78 of the CISG in Arab countries", I also wrote a number of additional publications for newspapers and magazines.

As a highly accomplished and dynamic immigration lawyer, I continue to be a leading figure in South African immigration.

Being the holder of a dual citizenship, I continuously assist many foreigners to achieve their aspiration of living, working and settling in South Africa. Particularly focused on the acquisition of all work visas and residency permits for clients from all over the world, my clientele consists of individuals as well as international companies. Additionally, I am a certified NLP Practitioner, as well as a Biometric Officer. 

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about them. 

We are in process of opening further offices in Johannesburg, Germany and the UK next year.


Xtraordinary Man of the Month - Fred Roed

Fred Roed - CEO of  World Wide Creative

Fred Roed - Xtraordinary Man of the MonthIn June we celebrate Father’s Day and Youth Day. Xtraordinary Women have dedicated June to celebrating men making a difference in our community. We, therefore, have an Xtraordinary Man of the month for June. We honour a very special man making a difference in our country.

Fred Roed first started teaching people how to build their brands in the digital economy way back in 1998. Fred is the co-founder and CEO of innovation agency World Wide Creative, with clients such as Hyundai, City of Cape Town, Independent Media, Rand Merchant Bank, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile and The Foschini Group. Fred is also the co-founder of the Heavy Chef project, a platform for People That Do. Fred is obsessed with brand strategy and digital media - with side habits of pizza, Hawaiian shirts, movies, craft beer and fine wine. Fred Roed is currently Head of Agencies at the IAB SA (Interactive Advertising Bureau SA) and was awarded “Best Individual Contribution to the South African Digital Industry” in the 2015 Bookmark Awards held at the Turbine Hall in Johannesburg. Fast Company Magazine named Fred as one of The Top 100 Creative People In Business 2015. Fred is also pretty sure he saw Elvis once, at the Pick n’ Pay in Tableview.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

I’m a South African of Danish descent; born in Johannesburg and raised in Cape Town. I studied Graphic Design at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, then studied Advertising in Copenhagen for a year. I’m also a dad of three awesome kids, and I live in the strange, eccentric fishing village of Hout Bay on the Atlantic Seaboard. Before running my agency, I have been, in no particular order, a barman, a graphic designer, an artist, a truck driver, a DJ, a doorman and the Chairman of a major charity organization. I’m passionate about building brands, and love the complex process of seeing an idea come to fruition through the entrepreneurial process.

Please tell us a little more about World Wide Creative and how it came about. 

WWC is an innovation agency. We started out as a design agency, grew into a digital marketing agency – and now, in our second decade we’ve evolved into a team of energetic, creative, innovative minds. Innovation means offering positive change, both to our clients and partners, as well as to our team members themselves. The agency is made up of four business units, namely KNOW, LEARN, CREATE and AMPLIFY.

The model we’ve developed is called the Head + Heart methodology. This is deployed through a four-stage process that our agency has refined over the 10 years plus that we’ve been working with top tier clients.

The agency came about after I met a cocky English guy, Mike Perk, who was in South Africa to surf around 2000. We became immediate friends, then business partners in 2003. Louis Janse van Rensburg is the other partner. Louis set up our Johannesburg office and has grown it into a hugely profitable area of the business. Mike and Louis are like family to me, and the smartest people I know.

What is Heavy Chef?

Heavy Chef is a platform for people that do. It comes from the saying ‘never trust a skinny chef’. It started out as a conversation in my studio a decade ago, after which the term ‘Heavy Chef’ stuck. We figured we had to become heavy chefs in order to make in this crazy age of innovation. I still believe that.

Heavy Chef has grown into a major content platform focusing on leadership, creativity and technology. It includes events, a quarterly printed magazine, a newsletter, a video portal and soon a podcast. We aim to offer experiential content, and we want to become the best in the world at that.


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